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Ban demanded on forced conversion, under-age marriage

KARACHI: The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) on Wednesday condemned the abduction, forced conversion and then marriage of a Hindu girl.

The girl, Anjali Meghwar, had been abducted, forcibly converted and then married to one of his kidnappers in Ghotki district on October 30.

The 12-year-old was abducted from her parents’ home at Mohalla Maswahan in Daharki by some local influential persons.

In a joint statement, PDSN coordinators Dr Sono Khangharani and Zulfiqar Shah and PILER Chief Executive Karamat Ali have demanded arrest of the religious clerics who performed marriage of the minor girl.

“This is the worst form of extremism against Hindu Dalits in Sindh. Unfortunately, incidences against minorities are increasing day by day but there is no mechanism to deal with such issues,” the statement said.

Anjali’s school-leaving and birth certificates confirm that she was born in 2002, which proves her marriage illegal under the recently passed Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Bill, 2013.

Unfortunately, the Daharki Civil Court judge has ordered the girl to live in Darul Aman in Karachi despite her plea to live with her parents. The local Hindu community had observed a strike to condemn the incident.

In 2012, another 17-year-old, Rinkle Kumari, was abducted and then converted forcefully. National laws do not allow marriage before the age of 18. The constitution, under its Article 36, provides safeguard to the minorities.

On October 24, another young girl, Kajal Bheel, was also abducted from her home at Udero Lal town in Matiari District.

The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network with allied organisations like Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, District Development Association Tharparkar, Child Rights Movement and Society for the Protection of the rights of the Child (SPARC) have expressed their anguish over the gruesome cases of rape, forced conversion, forced marriages and murder of young Hindu Dalit and other minority girls in Sindh and other parts of the country.

The network has announced to arrange press conferences and protests in various cities of Sindh. They said that the federal and provincial governments need to introduce legislation against forced conversion of minority girls in the country.

Daily Times